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Simon Beardow - Deputy Director, British Council, Vietnam

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Open Sesame

This magical phrase from the story Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves may well  resonate for budding email marketers.

The place of email in the online marketing mix remains a contested topic but it most definitely has it place.  The seemingly depressing statistic is the opening rate for such communications and this can be off-putting until one realises that you measly 25% is consistent with the industry standard you represent.

Take this recently released 2012 Silverpop Email Marketing Metrics Benchmark Study, for example.

The chart shows nonprofit emails have an average unique opening rates of just 21.2%.  It so happens that I have an interest in this particular figure as since 1998 I have been publishing a museum news site and send out weekly emails to subscribers.  While my opening rate is usually above 23% the aim is to get results that are in the upper quartile.  Being average is not good enough.

More important still is the Click Through Rate.  The simple act of opening an email is no guarantee of capturing a reader's interest. The better news is that while email opening rates are falling the CTR is increasing.

It is therefore essential to be using a good email marketing programme that has a robust set of statistical reports built in.  There are several in this category but one of the simplest to use (and the most friendly) is MailChimp.

One of the latest trends that is yielding very good results are email programmes that combine the functionality of social media platforms.  CheetahMail for example, has added Pinterest functionality to some of their email campaigns so that consumers can link products listed in a promotional email directly to their Pinterest pin boards. The result - 11% higher opening rates.

In the case of a furniture design enterprise the results of using this approach also showed:
  • A 2.8% increase in click-to-open rates
  • A 15%+ increase in Pinterest followers within the first week of deployment
  • A 33% increase in pin board activity

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